November 21, 2015 / 9:57 AM / 4 years ago

Egypt's top Muslim cleric says terrorism uses religion as front

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s top Muslim cleric said on Saturday that terrorism was a disease that used religion as a front and it was wrong to blame Islam for crimes committed in its name like last week’s Paris attacks.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of al-Azhar, the center of Islamic learning in Egypt, told a meeting of the Muslim Council of Elders which he heads that he condemned the Paris bloodshed and an attack by Islamist militants on a hotel in Mali on Friday.

But he said this violence had no link to authentic Islam.

“It is a clear injustice, and blatant bias, to tie the crimes of bombing and destruction happening now to Islam just because those who commit them cry ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they commit their atrocities,” Tayeb said.

He said terrorism was a life philosophy whose adherents were willing to die, but it was not the by-product of any Abrahamic faith. It was rather an “intellectual and psychological disease” that used religion as a front.

Those who burn Korans and mosques in the West are also “terrorists”, Tayeb said, and their actions served as fuel for Islamist militancy.

Islamic State militants killed 130 people in Paris in a series of attacks a week ago and al-Qaeda affiliated militants killed 19 people on Friday in an attack on a top hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali.

Reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Stephen Powell

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